Tumeangushwa chini, hatukuangamizwa. Kila wakati tumekuwa tukichukua mwilini mwetu kifo cha Kristo, ili uhai wake Yesu pia udhihirike katika miili yetu.
[We are] struck down, but not destroyed– always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our body.
— St Paul the Apostle, in his second letter to the Corinthians
Greetings once again from Mwanza, Tanzania. Since I last wrote I have been to Dar es Salaam and back again. Now, I believe, I am in Mwanza ‘for good’… but we shall see.
When I took the bus out from Dar to Mwanza in mid September, on that very morning fellow OCMC missionary Katie Wilcoxson took an ambulance to the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam for an emergency appendectomy. It seemed a strange time to skip town, but on arrival in Mwanza I was immediately able to facilitate communication between Church leadership here and the team back in Dar. Fellow missionaries Felice Stewart and Michael Pagedas were with Katie constantly, and even Archbishop Demetrios of Irinoupolis/ Dar es Salaam made great effort to ensure she was being cared for.
Once Katie had recovered enough to travel, I flew back to Dar to make some final farewells, collect the rest of my luggage, and help the team depart. We shipped most of our bags by bus (quite a story) and traveled together to Mwanza by airplane. Now we five are together– including Mama Charita Stavrou, who has been in Mwanza since March– with our beloved Archbishop, His Eminence Jeronymos. In the to weeks Michael, Katie and Felice hope to continue on to their new home in Bukoba, as I chtontinue to hunt for a house here.
When a person arrives in a new culture as a missionary, one of the most important and difficult things is to learn to become part of that new culture. People join families as infants, and the very best way to join a new cultural “family” is to become as a child, knowing nothing and needing help in every way. Katie, in her sudden illness and gradual recovery, has been granted this difficult gift of helplessness. The grace of God is being made evident in her physical weakness, and the temporary limitations of her body are revealing a strong spirit which shines with the light of Christ.
I do not wish to make light of another’s suffering, or to spiritualize profound physical pain, but I do thank God for using Katie to bless us all even in such a traumatic situation. Her side has been pierced even as was our Lord’s, and the life of Jesus is also being manifested in her body. Felice and Michael have been true heroes in this situation, and while I think I have been of some help, I stand in awe of these three blessed people who I have the privilege of working alongside.
For me, myself, the news is that I need to find a house! This is not an easy thing for anyone, but house-hunting in a foreign culture just adds to the complexity. For the past thirty months, starting long before arrival in Africa, I have been living in spare rooms, hostels, guest houses, or just plain on the road. You can imagine how eager I am to be settled in a “home” once again! But I do not wish to make a poor decision in haste. Please pray that God will guide me to a house which is secure, affordable, comfortable, and a short distance from the Church office.
Many of you have been praying for Katie in these days. Your prayers have blessed and encouraged all of us, and I am personally grateful. Thank you also for your prayers on my behalf, for your friendship, good communication, and continuing financial participation in my life here. Please stay in touch!
By your prayers,
In my letter I mentioned that Katie was treated at the “Aga Khan Hospital.” This is a medical facility familiar to most Africans, but they don’t have them in North America, do they?
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is well-known throughout Africa and much of Asia as one of the largest and most reputable development/ aid organizations in the tropical and subtropical world. AKDN runs many of the very best hospitals and universities in Africa, as well as a variety of other development programs. It is centered in Pakistan and was founded by the imam of the Nizari branch of Ismaili Islam, whose hereditary title is “Aga Khan.”
Ismailism is a very different sort of Islam than the Salafist Sunni or Twelver Shi’a branches which often make news in the North American press. The primary thing that most Africans (myself included) know about Ismailism is our first-hand experience of the hospitals, universities, and other charitable/ development activities undertaken by the Aga Khan Development Network.